Fun Fall Activities in Big Sky, MT

It’s impossible not to fall in love with fall in Montana! 


Fall is Montana’s most breathtakingly beautiful season … brilliant colors paint the landscapes, wildlife are at their most active preparing for winter, the days are crisp and clear with blue sunny skies, and there’s fewer travelers than summer and winter ski season

Montana is a dream destination for lovers of the great outdoors and there’s no better basecamp than Big Sky! Big Sky is the most naturally beautiful, and coolest mountain town in Montana. Visitors are welcomed with wide expanses of wilderness, towering mountain peaks, endless opportunities for exploration, and the perks of a laid-back, and welcoming resort community

It’s been a long, hot summer in the mountains – but the smell of wood-burning fireplaces and pumpkin spice is already in the air! It’s time to pull out the sweaters and beanies, take advantage of the cooler temperatures by day, cozy up with s’mores and stories round the firepit, and take time out with family and friends before the silly season. Big Sky Mountain Village sits at an elevation of 7,500 feet – the colors start popping mid-September in the higher elevations and continue through the end of October with leaf-peeping adventures around every corner … and from home!


Enjoy the Fall Foliage Drive to Big Sky


Whether you’re approaching Big Sky from Bozeman or West Yellowstone, the drive to Big Sky along the Gallatin River Canyon is spectacular any time of year, yet even more so in fall. The Gallatin Canyon follows the infamous Gallatin River with the crisp colors of golden cottonwoods and vibrant red alder bushes bursting along the river banks, and free roaming wildlife in the river valley. 

Plan time to take it slow … it’s a Montana fall foliage drive you’ll never forget!

Chase Waterfalls & Fall Colors


Big Sky is paradise for hikers, mountain bikers, and casual strollers! Wherever you adventure in Big Sky during the fall season, you’re bound to witness vibrant fall colors popping. The Ousel Falls Trail near Big Sky Town Center is short, spectacular and perfect for casual strollers and families with the reward of the scenic Gallatin River, a natural pool (chilly in fall!), and a gorgeous waterfall. 

Other top Big Sky fall foliage hikes include the Beehive Basin trail (ranked one of the world’s 10 greatest hikes!), the Lava Lake trail, and the bucket-list Lone Peak trail to Montana’s highest scenic overlook point at 11,116 feet.

Experience World-Class Fly Fishing


If you’ve seen A River Runs Through It, you’ll know all about the world-class fly fishing that awaits in Big Sky, MT. Big Sky is surrounded by famous blue-ribbon trout waters including the Yellowstone River, Madison River, and Gallatin River near Big Sky. Fall is one of the best times to reel in a big trout on the Gallatin River (right before spawning season) and with the golden hues of fall reflecting on the waters, you’re in for a world-class fly fishing experience in Big Sky. 

For the ultimate fly fishing experience in Montana, Gallatin River Guides have been operating year-round guided fly fishing trips on the Yellowstone, Madison, and Gallatin River for over 30 years. They know when, where, and how to fish Big Sky’s blue-ribbon trout waters with options for walking and wading, floating trips, or beginner fly fishing lessons on a private pond.

Saddle Up for a Western Trail Ride


Saddle up at an authentic Montana dude ranch to explore the backcountry of Big Sky on horseback – you can even go fly fishing on horseback! Whether it’s your first time riding or you’re keen to gallop off into the wilderness, horseback riding takes you to Big Sky fall foliage trails your hiking boots can’t! 

You’re in cowboy country … why not live the classic Old West experience! There are many local Big Sky ranches and outfitters that don’t stop saddling up after summer and operate year-round with unique horseback experiences for every level of rider.

Soak in Natural Hot Springs


While most of Big Sky’s natural hot springs are remotely situated on private land, there’s still opportunity to soak up the fabulous fall colors in Montana’s rejuvenating natural hot springs. Bozeman Hot Springs, Norris Hot Springs and Chico Hot Springs are all an easy drive from Big Sky and are open year round for a rejuvenating soak backdropped by beautiful fall colors. 

Of course, first prize would be to leaf-peep from your private hot tub – there’s that too! Our collection of Big Sky vacation rentals includes 110+ Big Sky hot tub homes with panoramic views of Lone Peak and perfectly perched for the best leaf-peeping in Big Sky, from the comfort and privacy of home!

Plan a Fall Trip to Yellowstone National Park


It’s clearly still a secret that fall is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park, and not only for fall foliage. The visitor numbers to Yellowstone drop radically after summer, the crazy traffic jams are over, Yellowstone’s world-famous wildlife make their way to the meadows and valleys, and a kaleidoscope of colors adds awe to Yellowstone National Park’s natural wonders. It’s a spectacular season to visit the park. 

The West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park is an hour drive south of Big Sky, the drive alone is worth it! Amidst the vibrant display of colors, fall visitors to Yellowstone have the privilege of witnessing grizzlies and brown bears preparing for hibernation, elk rut season, the fall migration of hawks and eagles, prime wolf watching, and biking and hiking trails awash in glorious golds. For the ultimate fall experience of Yellowstone, we highly suggest a guided tour with knowledge of the best leaf-peeping and wildlife viewing spots in Yellowstone!

Explore Big Sky Town Center


From the majestic Montana wilderness to the heart and soul of Big Sky, Big Sky Town Center. Whether you’re staying close by in Meadow Village or a short shuttle ride away in Mountain Village or Moonlight Basin, Town Center is the “downtown of Big Sky” and deserves a spot on your fall vacation itinerary. 

Browse the art galleries, sports outfitters and upscale boutiques, stock up on vacation groceries at Roxy’s Market or Hungry Moose and be sure to keep your eye on the event calendar for local events – there’s always something fun happening at Big Sky Town Center.

Indulge in Big Sky’s Restaurant Scene


Our Big Sky vacation rentals feature some of the best kitchens in Big Sky but don’t let that stop you from indulging a little (or a lot!) in Big Sky’s amazing restaurant scene. Between Big Sky Town Center and Mountain Village you’ll find everything from cozy coffee shops and cafes to family restaurants, fine dining, breweries and cocktail bars.

Hit the Slopes on Thanksgiving Opening Day


If there’s no time to visit Big Sky in time for fall foliage, plan your trip for later in the fall season! Thanksgiving is well celebrated in Big Sky – traditionally, and with the opening day of Big Sky Resort. The fall colors have faded but there’s unique alpine experiences both on and off the slopes at Big Sky Resort – here’s our guide on What to Expect at Big Sky Resort Winter 2022-23.

Refresh & Relax with Family & Friends


Refresh, relax and unwind with friends and family in the privacy of a Montana mountain cabin with leaf-peeping and wildlife viewing from your front porch … or a warm bubbly hot tub! From classic romantic log cabins for two to rare 7-bedroom modern mountain chalets, our Big Sky vacation rentals offer the ultimate retreat to get away from it all this fall.


Planning a Fall Trip to Yellowstone National Park


Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first and most famous national park! Yellowstone spans over 2 million acres and across three states (Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana), has five entrances and visitor centers, and welcomes nearly 5 million visitors annually. 

The summer months account for over half of the annual visitors to Yellowstone National Park, with more than 1 million visitors in July alone. The best way to escape the crowds at Yellowstone is to visit in the off season. Fall is the perfect time to avoid the masses of tourists, reconnect and recreate in nature, and witness some of the most spectacular geothermal features in the world surrounded by the beauty of fall colors and Yellowstone’s local wildlife preparing for winter. 

Here’s our guide to the best time to visit Yellowstone for fall foliage, activities and attractions to include in your itinerary, and where to stay to experience the beauty of Yellowstone National Park in fall.


Pick Your Dates for Prime Fall Foliage

The first signs of fall appear in late August – there’s a cooler nip in the air, layers of sunrise frost blanket the valleys, and the higher elevations above 7,000 feet begin to turn to glorious shades of gold. From mid-September to mid-October the fall foliage cascades from the upper elevations down to the lower valleys with hues of golden yellows, burnt oranges and brilliant reds adding contrast to Yellowstone’s captivating landscapes.

September

Low 30oF – High 64oF

Fall colors above 7,000 feet

September is still a popular time to visit Yellowstone so be prepared for potential crowds of tourists (far fewer than summer!) and traffic lines of enthusiastic leaf peepers and wildlife viewers. September highlights include the famous elk rut near Mammoth Hot Springs, the fascinating raptor migration in the Hayden Valley, and a higher chance of incredible bear sightings as the black bears and grizzly bears prepare for winter hibernation foraging for berries, nuts and roots in the valleys and roadside meadows.

October

Low 22oF – High 51oF

Fall colors below 7,000 feet

By October the fall foliage in the lower elevations is vibrant, the crowds have dissipated, the roads are quieter, and the chance of wildlife sightings is climbing! The Yellowstone Park restaurants, services and facilities begin to close down mid-October, and the weather is unpredictable! Light snowfalls can begin as early as October in Yellowstone so pack your layers and be prepared for potential dangerous winter driving conditions and road closures – or take a guided Yellowstone tour!

November

Low 12oF – High 34oF

Fall colors fading

By November the fall colors have faded, the peaks are blanketed with snow, and most of the roads within Yellowstone National Park are closed. The Visitor Center at the West Entrance remains open year round, however entrance to the park is limited. Yellowstone winter tours begin early November with amazing private and group experiences from wolf watching and wildlife tours to snowshoe tours, snowmobile expeditions and unique backcountry experiences.


Plan Your Fall Attractions & Activities

For the ultimate fall trip to Yellowstone National Park, we highly recommend booking a guided Yellowstone tour with a local tour company. An experienced local guide has an in-depth knowledge of Yellowstone’s diverse ecosystems and natural wonders, wonderful stories to share, and will ensure you visit the top sightseeing spots during fall. 

Scenic Drives: Firehole Canyon Drive and Firehole Lake Drive.

Natural Hot Springs: Firehole River near Madison Junction.

Waterfalls: Fairy Falls and Firehole Falls.

Geological Wonders: Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful, Artists Paintpots, Norris Geyser, Mammoth Hot Springs

Wildlife Viewing: Hayden Valley, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley.

Fall Fly Fishing: The Madison River is a hot spot for fall flying fishing.


Expand Your Exploration Beyond Yellowstone

Situated only 50 miles north of the West Entrance, Big, Sky Montana is the ideal base camp for a trip to Yellowstone -and is fast becoming one of the top travel spots in the western USA worthy of every vacation bucket-list. 

In 2021, Big Sky was voted one of the “Best Ski Resorts in the West”, one of the “Best Mountain Towns to Visit in the USA”, and one of “The Coolest Towns in America to Visit in 2021”. Big Sky was also ranked as an extraordinary destination to explore in “The World’s Greatest Places of 2021” by Time USA.

Expand your exploration out of the park and stay in Big Sky, MT. Tours of Yellowstone National Park depart right from the heart of Big Sky (or from your front door if you choose a private trip!). After your fall trip to Yellowstone, you can join in end of season golfing and summer activities at Big Sky Resort, hike or bike through vibrant fall foliage on Big Sky’s epic network of trails, flyfish the Gallatin River, horseback ride, or simply stay home, soak up the views, and stargaze from your private hot tub!


Stay with Big Sky Vacation Rentals

Whether you choose to stay minutes from the action in Mountain Village or Big Sky Town Center or in a secluded setting for stargazing and wildlife viewing from home, our collection of luxury Big Sky rentals is sure to include a private mountain cabin near Yellowstone National Park, perfect for you!

Mountain Village

Browse our selection of 70+ custom vacation homes, cabins and ski condos in the heart of Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Village at the base of Lone Peak. Our convenient Big Sky Resort lodging ranges from 2 bedroom contemporary condos overlooking Lake Levinsky to rare 7 bedroom modern mountain chalets for a family reunion near Yellowstone.

Meadow Village

Our collection of 4 to 6 bedroom Meadow Village condos and custom lodges are conveniently situated close to shopping, dining and world-class golf in Big Sky Town Center. Meadow Village is an easy 7-mile drive or free shuttle ride to Big Sky Resort Mountain Village.

Moonlight Basin

Moonlight Basin is a Big Sky neighborhood perched high on ski runs and trails of Lone Mountain. Whether you’re seeking a secluded and cozy mountain cabin or an exclusive mountain lodge for a large group getaway, even the most distinguished guests will find their luxury Yellowstone retreat in Moonlight Basin.

Start planning your fall visit to Yellowstone with Big Sky Vacation Rentals. Browse our collection of vacation rentals near Yellowstone, download our Big Sky Vacation Guide for trip planning, or call our team of local experts who are happy to help with tour suggestions for Yellowstone, local Big Sky recommendations, and find you a Yellowstone vacation rental to match your needs. 


Experience World Class Fly Fishing in Big Sky

In Big Sky, there are so many waterways to fish that it can be hard to find the perfect spot for your next trip. So, we teamed up with Gallatin River Guides, Hunter McPhillips to bring you the current fishing report in Big Sky, Montana for the summer of 2022.


There are several ways to count the population of fish which helps to understand the fishing conditions. For example, you can set up a fish ladder to manually count every fish as they pass through. You could use a counting fence to count the fish in that restricted region. Or, you could try electro-fishing where a section of the river is electrically shocked, then the fish are temporarily stunned long enough to count once they float to the top, where they can be counted. Instead of making you research things like population dynamics, probability sampling, abundance density distribution, and genetic data, we talked to Hunter McPhillips to get the latest run-down on Big Sky’s fishing report.

Instead of relying on numbers and equations for how many fish are in the water, fishing reports focus on the prospects of catching fish and give advice on how to make your catch. When you’re here in Big Sky, don’t worry about how deep the trout are, what they’re eating, and whether or not they’ll like your bait because we’re saving you that trouble.

The likelihood of catching fish in a river can depend on many things. What predators are in the area and how many? What are the dynamics of the river? How long, wide, and fast is it? Is the river heavily fished? Knowing how many fish are in the river is not going to help us catch more fish. A fishing report will help, but it must come from a trusted source that knows the waterways well and fishes them often.

Gallatin River Guides has been a year-round source for fly fishing the Gallatin, Madison, Yellowstone, and Paradise Valley Spring Creeks for over 30 years. With their expertise in guiding and fishing experience, they’re sure to know their way around the waters. Gallatin River Guides is the best source for all things fishing on your next Big Sky vacation

Gallatin River Guides’ fly fishing trips showcase the great waters of Montana, like the Gallatin River and the Madison River. From these central locations, you can find the highest concentration of world class, wild fly-fishing waters. Take a look at Gallatin River Guide, Hunter McPhillips’, favorite fishing spots for the summer of 2022.

Gallatin River

The Gallatin River has bumped up and turned brown, making for a great fishing option. Targeting water from the bank and fishing the first 1-2 feet off the river’s bank will be key. Fly selection will be easy as bugs release in the high water. Rubber legs, prince nymphs, and worm patterns will be your best bet.

Madison River

The Upper Madison River is starting to rise which should put fish back in easy holding water where the water will be clearer above the West fork. Check the Upper Madison flowcharts to see any plugs of mud heading down low. Stonefly and caddis patterns are the go-to and small streamers near the banks could move some bigger fish.

To reserve your next fly fishing day trip or custom fly fishing adventure, request Hunter McPhillips at Gallatin River Guides.

Big Sky is an outdoor paradise and with so many summer adventures to choose from why not start planning your mountain getaway with Big Sky Vacation Rentals. Stay in the heart of all that our majestic mountain town offers and soak up the beauty of nature. You can enjoy the views while you cook up your fresh catch in one of our luxurious kitchens!


A Guide to Wildlife Viewing in Yellowstone


Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the world, dubbed the “Serengeti of North America” for its captivating landscapes, natural wonders, and abundance of wildlife roaming free in their natural habitat. Yellowstone is home to more wildlife than any of the lower 48 states with hundreds of animal species ranging from wild and majestic mammals to colorful fish life, amphibians and beautiful birds.

Ranked the most visited national park in the US, and setting new records for 2021, Yellowstone National Park boasts 2.2 million acres which is over 3,000 square miles of pristine, undisturbed and protected land for visitors to reconnect with nature, recreate in the great outdoors, and experience one-of-a-kind encounters with the iconic wildlife of Yellowstone National Park. The West Entrance of the park is now open for spring but make sure to check out the park’s website for updated information when making your travel plans.

Whether you’re negotiating bison traffic jams on a road trip, hiking the trail systems through the backcountry, or considering a guided tour of Yellowstone National Park during your vacation in Big Sky, here’s our guide to the wildlife of Yellowstone and the top spots for wildlife viewing to maximize your time spent exploring one of the most amazing wildlife habitats in North America – Yellowstone National Park.

The Iconic Wildlife of Yellowstone National Park


Grizzly & Black Bears

Best places to see: Hayden Valley & Lamar Valley

Yellowstone National Park is home to an estimated 720 grizzly bears and 600 black bears living in the forest, fields and mountains. The grizzly bear is Montana’s official state animal, best recognized by a large hump on its back, and larger and far more aggressive than the smaller black bear. Yellowstone bears hibernate all winter (October to April) and are best spotted in the spring when they leave their higher elevation dens to feed in the lower elevations with their newborn cubs. Always be bear aware, travel in groups, make a noise and carry bear spray on all hiking trails in Big Sky, Yellowstone and the backcountry.


Elk

Best place to see: Mammoth Hot Springs

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has one of the largest elk populations in the US, with anywhere up to 20,000 elk in the park during the summer months. One of the most photographed animals in Yellowstone, elk are easily spotted roaming freely around Big Sky, on the road from Big Sky to Yellowstone, and in the vast meadows of Yellowstone National Park. Elk are best viewed (and heard!) bugling and fighting for dominance during the rut (breeding) season in the fall months.


North American Bison

Best places to see: Hayden Valley & Lamar Valley

The bison, commonly referred to as the American buffalo, is North America’s largest land mammal and the National Mammal of the US. Yellowstone National Park is the only place bison have continuously lived since prehistoric times and with an estimated 5,450 bison in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, it’s one of the best places to spot free ranging bison in their natural habitat. Bison are extremely unpredictable, dangerous and likely to charge if surprised. They can run 3 times faster than humans so please keep your distance and use common sense.


Moose

Best places to see: Beaver Ponds by Mammoth Hot Springs & Yellowstone Lake

The moose is another of Yellowstone’s majestic mammals, best found grazing along the lake shores, rivers, marshlands and beaver ponds during the cooler mornings and evenings. There are less than 200 moose in Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres, and they camouflage well, so a moose sighting in Yellowstone is a unique experience! If you’re staying in Big Sky, moose are often spotted around town, on the golf courses, or munching in the backyard of your mountain cabin!


Gray Wolf

Best places to see: Lamar Valley & Hayden Valley

The gray wolf was reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and, today, Yellowstone is one of the best places in the world to watch wolves in the wild. With less than 95 wolves in the park, wolf sightings are rare and are easier in the snowy landscapes of Yellowstone during winter. Mid-September to mid-June is prime wolf watching season in Yellowstone National Park.

Other wildlife sightings in Yellowstone include the threatened Canada lynx, elusive mountain lions and cougars, mule deer and white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats in the jagged peaks, pronghorns, and rodents (beavers, porcupines, marmots, squirrels, chipmunks and gophers) scurrying through the rocky areas in the higher elevations. Remember to keep your distance from the animals and to use common sense as the park is their home.

Yellowstone National Park is also home to more than 300 bird species including the endangered peregrine falcon, red-tailed hawks, diving ospreys, the iconic Bald Eagle, and the nocturnal Great Horned Owl. These magnificent birds of prey thrive in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with prime birdwatching spots along the rivers, lakes and forested areas of the park.

Where to See Wildlife in Yellowstone


Yellowstone National Park is not a drive-thru zoo with guaranteed sightings. With over 3,000 square miles of wild landscapes and diverse natural habitats, the animals in Yellowstone National Park are constantly on the move and wildlife sightings require patience and binoculars.

The absolute best way to experience the wildlife of Yellowstone National Park is on a guided tour and some of the top Yellowstone Park tours depart right from Big Sky! If you’re planning a self-guided adventure into the park, here’s our suggestions for the best places to see wildlife in Yellowstone.

Hayden Valley

Distance from West Yellowstone Entrance: 47 miles

The lush Hayden Valley lies north of Yellowstone Lake and south of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, between Canyon Village and Lake Village. The Hayden Valley is a renowned gathering place for herds of wild bison, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, coyotes and many other Yellowstone wildlife species. The Hayden Valley is also regarded as one of the best spots in Yellowstone National Park for grizzly and black bear sightings.


Mammoth Hot Springs

Distance from West Yellowstone Entrance: 48 miles

Mammoth Hot Springs is near the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park on Grand Loop Road and is a prime spot for elk viewing during the autumn rut. The road follows the Gardiner River Canyon with bison, pronghorn and mule deer roaming the grasslands, bighorn sheep climbing the rocky peaks and an abundance of bird life along the river.


Yellowstone Lake

Distance from West Yellowstone Entrance: 55 miles

Yellowstone Lake is the largest alpine lake in North America and a natural watering hole for a wide range of wildlife. The Fishing Bridge at the northern tip of Yellowstone Lake is a prime wildlife viewing spot for potential sightings of ospreys feeding on cutthroat trout, grizzlies, black bears and their cubs swimming in the lake waters, and moose feeding along the muddy shoreline.

Statistics show that a wildlife collision occurs every 39 minutes in Yellowstone National Park. Drive cautiously, read the warning signs, follow the speed limit, and always keep a safe distance from wildlife. Yellowstone National Park requires visitors stay at least 25 yards away from large animals and 100 yards from bears and wolves.

While summer is peak tourist season in Yellowstone, springtime is the best season for wildlife viewing with cooler temperatures, bears and their cubs in search of food after hibernation, off-spring finding their first feet, and lush landscapes coming to life after a long winter.


Big Sky, MT is the ultimate base camp for exploring Yellowstone National Park. In Big Sky, we share our backyard with many of these majestic mammals and sightings are common on the ski slopes and hiking trails, in and around town, and even from the comfort of your Big Sky vacation rentals.

Big Sky Vacation Rentals offers a selection of over 125+ luxury vacation rentals in the best Big Sky neighborhoods with exceptional guest services to enhance your stay, and easy access to unique wildlife encounters in Yellowstone National Park.

Download our Big Sky Vacation Guide and start planning your Yellowstone wildlife experience today with Big Sky Vacation Rentals.

We Live Here. We Play Here. We Know Big Sky.


Autumn in Yellowstone


Yellowstone National Park is one of the topmost visited parks in the US and set new visitor records this summer, outperforming previous years and pre-pandemic levels. While summer brings the most visitors, autumn is Yellowstone’s quieter season with thinning crowds, bright sunny days, cool crisp air and a vibrant display of golden aspens contrasting the coniferous forests and roadside waterfalls.

Fall Foliage Hikes in Yellowstone


Prime time for fall foliage in Yellowstone is from mid-September in the higher elevations above 7,000 feet through to mid-October in the lower valleys. The best way to see the autumn glow is on one of the many Yellowstone National Park hikes with ample leaf-peeping opportunities, wildlife viewing and panoramic vistas. The Bunsen Peak Trail south of Mammoth Hot Springs boasts 360-degree views of the Gallatin Mountains and Yellowstone River Valley. Safety first! Be sure to carry bear spray at all times and know how to use it!

Fall Fishing in Yellowstone


Fishing in Yellowstone during the autumn months offers some of the best fly fishing and the potential for the perfect catch. The brown trout spawn between late-October and mid-November, perfectly timed with Yellowstone’s fall foliage season. The Madison River near the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park and the Gardner River near Mammoth Hot Springs are prime spots for fall fishing in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone’s Geological Wonders


More than half the world’s hydrothermal features (more than 10,000!) are preserved at Yellowstone National Park from hot springs and mud pots to the world-famous geysers. “Geyser Gazers” flock to Yellowstone throughout the year to view these geological wonders. Top geysers easily accessible on a day trip to Yellowstone from Big Sky include the spectacular Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful to the south and Artists Paintpots, Norris Geyser and the terraces and thermal pools of Mammoth Hot Springs up north.

Wildlife Viewing


Fall is the best time to see the Iconic Yellowstone wildlife, with best viewing times at dawn and dusk. Herds of elk and humpbacked bison migrate from higher elevations to the valleys for winter grazing, bears forage for food in preparation for winter hibernation and the hawks and raptors begin their annual fall migration (best seen in the Hayden Valley). Mid-September to mid-June is prime time for wolf watching in Yellowstone and the musical bugle of the elk during rutting (breeding) season can be heard from September and often as late as mid-October (best seen at Mammoth Hot Springs). Safety first! Stay well away from wildlife as the park suggests 100 years from bears and wolves, 25 yards from all other animals.

Top Tips for Visiting Yellowstone in Autumn


The autumn weather in Yellowstone can be highly unpredictable and snow can begin to accumulate as early as October in the higher elevations! Be prepared to experience a wide range of temperatures from cool lows of 20 F to highs in the 60’s. 

Many of Yellowstone’s restaurants, services and lodging facilities close by mid-October, however the roads remain open until November 8th for guided and self-drive tours of Yellowstone. Always check for seasonal road closures when planning an autumn trip to Yellowstone.

Big Sky Vacation Rentals offer a premier portfolio of vacation rentals near Yellowstone, an easy drive from the west entrance on Highway 191, and our local team are ready to help you choose the perfect home-away-from-home and best tour of Yellowstone National Park for a memorable autumn escape and fall-foliage trip to Yellowstone National Park. 

Yellowstone in the Spring


Escape the Crowds and Enjoy Yellowstone National Park as it Opens in the Spring

Spring is one of the most dynamic times of the year in the Yellowstone National Park. The landscape changes almost daily as the hillsides start turning green and the days grow longer. The rivers run higher and the waterfalls become more prominent from the snow melt while snow still lingers in higher elevations. As the temperatures increases, wildlife including grizzly and black bears will start coming out of hibernation and become more active in the meadows. 

While most visitors don’t come to Yellowstone National Park until the months of July and August, there is a certain beauty to the park in the spring time making it worth a visit before the crowded summer months. Please check the National Park Service website for current weather and road conditions. 

Travel Tips

Dress Warm! While the weather is generally milder than in March, April still brings occasional snow storms with temperatures dropping below freezing on some days.

Rise Early! Before sunrise if possible as Yellowstone in the spring has some of the most exciting wildlife watching. Rising early is the best time to observe animals in their natural habitat.

Be Prepared! If you plan to hike make sure to bring bear spray, water, sunscreen and rain gear as Yellowstone is a mountain wilderness and being prepared will ensure you have an enjoyable trip.

Pack Your Lunch! Most restaurants and services in the park will still be closed for the season so make sure you bring enough food for an entire day’s explorations.

Biking in Yellowstone National Park

Every spring, biking, including e-bikes are allowed on Yellowstone National Park roads while they are still closed to motorized, public travel. Spring bicycling season usually starts by early April with no set date as designated routes are opened once they are cleared from snow. The closest route to Big Sky that is open to biking is from the West Entrance to Mammoth Hot Springs.

This is a wonderful way to explore the vastness and wildlife of the park in all tranquility while getting some exercising in as well!

Yellowstone Wildlife in the Spring

Spring is the best season to view wildlife in Yellowstone. Baby animals start appearing all over the park, including grizzly and black bear cubs starting mid March, bison calves in April and elk calves later on from May to June. While bears and bison are incredibly exciting to observe, please be sure to respect wildlife, follow all park safety guidelines and keep your distance for your safety and theirs.

Bison calves tend to be born from late March through May and have a fuzzy, orange-reddish fur, earning them the nickname “red dogs”. The bison calves are able to keep up with their mothers just a couple hours after they are born and they are protected from danger by the rest of the herd surrounding them at all times. You will be able to see the herds with the red dogs in the meadows, make sure to watch from a distance as bison can get aggressive if too close.

The Finest Big Sky Homes

After each full day of exploring Yellowstone National Park, hiking or biking around Big Sky, retreat to your luxurious, comfortable vacation home for an evening to remember. We proudly boast one of Big Sky’s largest selections of vacation rentals, so you’re bound to find one that perfectly suits your group’s size, style, and budget. Luxuries include private hot tubs, lavish outdoor patios and incredible mountain views. Please give us a call today at +1-888-915-2787 or email us at info@bookbigsky.com to inquire, or simply browse through our available properties